Choosing a Web Hosting Company for Your Online Business

2006-08-31by Lynn VanDyke

In a recent study, 72% of Americans expressed interest in starting their own online business. Are you one of those folks? If so, I have some valuable secrets to share with you.

One of the first issues you will address as an online business owner is selecting your hosting company. A hosting company charges you a monthly or yearly fee in exchange for allowing the world to “see” your site online. You cannot create your online business without a hosting company. Choosing a hosting company can be extremely tricky and challenging to beginners and experts alike.

During your search for a hosting company be sure each feature listed below is included. These features are crucial to running a successful online business. With growing technology you need a smart, efficient, low cost hosting program that delivers results. Do not pay extra for these features! Here are 6 must-have features that your hosting company should provide to you- for free!

1) Complete Traffic Analysis

You need to know how your visitors are finding you. Many hosting companies provide a below par traffic analyzer. You should know what keywords yielded visitors, what search engines referred visitors, what websites referred visitors, how many unique visitors you receive each day/month, what country your visitors are from, what page your visitor entered/exited your site, how many times each page on your site was viewed and more. All of these traffic analysis features should come included in the cost of hosting.

2) Search Engine Optimization

Each webpage of your online business should be optimized for search engines. You have a few choices for optimizing your pages: learn how to do it yourself, pay a professional or use your hosting company’s free optimizer tool. Learning how to optimize web pages is a long and boring process. If you are a serious online business owner, then you will not have time to learn the SEO (search engine submission) process. Paying a professional is expensive. There’s not much more to say about it! I’d save your time and money by allowing your hosting company’s tool to optimize pages for you. This feature is crucial to ranking well at search engines. This tool should be included in the final monthly or yearly hosting fee.

3) Search Engine Submission

Your online business must be seen! There are 3 major search engines: Google, Yahoo and MSN. There are several smaller engines that are also worth mentioning. Every single page of your website should be submitted to all search engines. The problem here is time. Who has time to read through search engine submission guidelines? Again you have the option to pay a professional, do the process yourself, or have your hosting company do it for free. Your hosting company should automatically submit each and every webpage to all major search engines. It should submit each page upon its creation and upon making any changes. Your hosting company’s submission program should submit your site and pages within each search engine’s submission policies. This feature should be free and included in the monthly or yearly hosting fee!

4) Newsletter

This one is often overlooked. There are many third party newsletter providers, but why pay the additional fee when your hosting company can provide the tool for no cost at all? Be sure the hosting company follows anti-SPAM guidelines, and be sure that you have the ability to create, edit and send emails to your list at your convenience. Lastly, you need to know the statistics of your mailings. You need to know how many people opened the email, how many emails were rejected, how may people, if any, reported you for Spamming, etc.

5) RSS and Blogging Capability

This feature is blossoming as you read this article. The future of online businesses may very well rest in the hands of RSS and blogging. This tool allows people to keep in touch with your online business. Many people do not want to sign up for newsletters for fear of Spam. This is their answer. Many people know have RSS readers. Your site visitors should be able to sign up for your RSS feed or blog to keep in touch with updates, news, specials and more. This feature should be free from your hosting provider!

6) Friendly, Business-Oriented Help Forums

There is a difference between a remote help desk and forums. These days forums are infested with cranky folks chasing the next black hat trick or trying to sell you a tool you do not need. Your hosting company should have free and friendly help forums where other online business owners can meet, network and discuss online business issues. This may seem like a feature you can overlook, but I urge you not to. Successful online business owners know the impact of fast, reliable help. There’s nothing worse than feeling alone and confused about online businesses. A forum filled with success-minded folks is a true gem. These 6 must-have tools and features should all be free. Each and every one has proved invaluable to my online business success.

Should you have any questions or need assistance in selecting the proper hosting company for your online business, please feel free to contact me. Your success depends on you, your tools, and your budget! Nuture all three to the fullest and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Best of luck!

Copyright 2006 Lynn VanDyke

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